As Derek Jeter enters his final season, it seems a good time to ask: Where did all the shortstops go? Not far, it turns out. These five players are among Baseball America's top 14 prospects, and there are more to come at the position. Hmm, what does this remind us of ...
One of the top power prospects at any position, Baez hit 37 home runs in 130 games last year between High A and Double A. To that monstrous power Baez adds the speed to steal 20 bases, a solid glove and a rocket arm. Before last year there were concerns about his overly aggressive plate approach, but Baez's success has quieted many doubters. With Starlin Castro in place in Chicago, Baez's debut could come at second base, where he has been drawing starts this spring.
With just 18 major league games under his belt, Bogaerts started all six games of last year's World Series at third base and will be Boston's Opening Day shortstop. A .296/.373/.489 hitter in the minors, he could be a middle-of-the-order bat in his prime. (He could also be a third baseman, depending on how his 6'3", 185-pound frame fills out.) Bogaerts has been praised for his cool temperament. The native of Aruba speaks four languages and is mature beyond his years.
The top overall pick in the 2012 draft, this 6'4", 205-pound Puerto Rican is the biggest, the youngest (he won't turn 20 until late September) and potentially the best of this shortstop crop. Last year, in his first full professional season, Correa hit .320/.405/.467 in A ball, and he has filled out considerably since then. With his all-around potential at the plate, makeup and size, he has plenty in common with Bogaerts. Correa should make it to Double A this season.
The purest shortstop in the class, Lindor can be an elite defender, and with Asdrubal Cabrera entering his walk year, Lindor has a clear path to the job in Cleveland. He isn't a glove-only prospect. He hit .306 at High A last year before a late-season promotion to Double A, and he had 49 walks and only 46 strikeouts on the year. His power is mostly in doubles and triples, but he has the speed and awareness to steal 20-plus bags, and his high OBP gives him the look of a top-of-the-order hitter.
Russell is a tick more than two months younger than Lindor and on a similar pace toward the majors. Like Lindor, he excelled at High A in 2013 at the age of 19 (.275/.377/.508 with 17 homers and 21 steals), and the major league incumbent at his position, in this case Jed Lowrie, is due to become a free agent. If Baez has the most power, Lindor the best glove, Correa the most potential and Bogaerts is the most advanced, then Russell is solidly in the middle of the pack in all categories—a nice place for a shortstop prospect to be.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY STEPHEN SKALOCKY; BRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BAEZ); DAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BOGAERTS); CHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CORREA)
PAUL SANCYA/AP (LINDOR); MIKE JANES/FOUR SEAM IMAGES (RUSSELL)